Mike Small: Debilitating British Realism and Our Need for a Scottish Republic
Writer Mark Fisher promoted the idea of ”capitalist realism”.
In his book of this title in 2009, he argued that “capitalist realism has succeeded in installing a ‘commercial ontology’ in which it is simply obvious that everything in society, including health care and education, should be run like a business. His idea refers to a “widespread feeling that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it”.
Alongside this idea we can see ‘British realism’, a condition in which the very strange and exceptional state of British structures, cultures and institutions is assumed not just to be normal and universal, but primary and exceptional. The staunchest British realists believe that Britain is the best in the world and have essentially formed some kind of cult that they are completely unaware of.
This movement is ahistorical and seems to ignore (often literally) the rest of the world. The condition can only be maintained by practicing an advanced state of hyper-tramp and avoiding studying ideas and examples beyond these islands. It ends in a state in which, for some Britons, there is a widespread feeling that not only is Britain the only viable political entity in which to exist, but also that it is impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative. to this one.
This can be seen from how we structure our upbringing to how we keep power in the hands of a few. Evidence from Upstart shows that the best way to allow our children to thrive is to learn through play. International evidence shows that children under the age of seven benefit from an educational approach that supports their physical development , emotional, social, and overall cognitive, rather than pushing them toward early academic success.
Upstart explains: “We are trapped by history and tradition. In 1870, the English parliament chose an early school age so that the children’s mothers could provide cheap labor in the factories. Scotland followed suit and since then we have taken it for granted that formal education should start at age five. (Only 12% of countries in the world enroll their children in school this early – and all but one are former members of the British Empire.)”
We continue this practice in the face of overwhelming evidence from around the world, because of British exceptionalism.
The House of Lords now has more than 800 unelected peers, at a cost of £1.1million a year, based on average spending demand, according to the Electoral Reform Society.
British exceptionalism is a debilitating condition.
At its heart, tradition and deference act as a stranglehold, a honeyed quietism that entangles people in a cozy, supple nostalgia. Even when these habits, structures and institutions are proven failures, they are hung up out of desperation and blind ignorance.
Nowhere is this truer than in continued allegiance to the monarchy. Now, sensing a real crisis, liberal commentators are panicking. Martin Kettle (above) writes: “The latest Ipsos Mori survey on the subject, in November 2021, showed that 60% for Britain remains a monarchy, 21% favoring a republic and 19% don’t know. It’s still a strong position, but it’s a noticeable decline. It came, moreover, at a time when the Queen’s own popularity remains intact. In a YouGov survey last week, Elizabeth II’s favor ratings were 84% positive to 11% negative. When the queen eventually leaves, however, things could be very different.
Well, yes, and without wanting to be morbid, it can’t be too far.
But a lot (a lot) has happened between November 2021 and today and I’d love to see those updated survey numbers. I would also like to see them disaggregated for Scotland.
Kettle thinks a lot about the future. He writes: “It is not difficult to see what will begin to happen after the death of the Queen, and perhaps even before her… The monarchy will find itself becoming the object of controversy of which Elizabeth has, on the whole, isolated it. . Its vulnerability will be exposed and tested, especially among young people. »
“If you want to make this prospect a little spicier, imagine this happening around the same time that the future unity of the new monarch’s kingdom is itself in question. Suppose Northern Ireland faces a referendum on unification, or Scotland faces a vote on whether to become independent. Neither is unthinkable over the next decade.
BUT if there is an open door for real change here and a move away from the suffocation of British realism, it is a door that needs to be pushed.
As the Yes movement tries to revive itself, it should do the right thing and put a Scottish Republic at the heart of its vision. We must completely revise the arguments for independence and the abandonment of the British monarchy must be a key part of a completely revamped perspective. This could be at the center of a contemporary constitution fit for the 21st century and future-oriented for times to come.
He would likely be unpopular with a small sliver of the population already unlikely to be persuaded and enrage some of the lumpen loyalists.
But more importantly, it would galvanize the idea that this is a democratic movement as much and much more than a nationalist one. Tactically, too, the introduction of completely new ideas bewilders the opposition, which foams in panic at the state of British politics.
Let’s change the field, let’s change the debate. Imagine a contemporary modernizing Scotland with an archaic broken Britain. Let Barons Foulkes and McConnell and Baroness Lundin Links oppose it as much as they wish.
We can be British subjects or Scottish citizens, it’s time to decide.
For a long time, the argument has been that the sweet spot is to ensure that the arguments for Scottish independence should not be too radical, which would deter people from supporting it. This has always been completely wrong, but it is more obviously wrong as you watch the British state descend into disgrace and dysfunction. For the Yes arguments to be convincing, they must offer the prospect of real change.